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Morning Java: Truly the four finest

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> We’ll bring the weekly chat to you live from Consol Energy Center at the Penguins practice. It begins, as always, at noon and right here on this blog.

>> A half-hour before that, at 11:30 a.m., I’ll be on Penguins Radio 24/7 as a guest of my friend Katie O’Malley, also at rinkside.

>> And so, this happened late last night in Chicago …

Another tremendous Game 7 overtime for what’s been a pretty entertaining Stanley Cup playoffs to date and, with that flick of Brent Seabrook’s wrists, we were suddenly down to four teams: Pittsburgh, Boston, Los Angeles … and Chicago.

Remarkably, those were the past four Cup winners, only the second time in NHL history that’s occurred.

Should make for quite a field, huh?

A popular topic in the eternity still remaining between now and Game 1 of Penguins-Bruins is bound to be how all this shapes up for the Penguins. My answer, dull as it might come across, is that it doesn’t matter much. If the Penguins play like they did in the final two games against Ottawa, they’re the champions. There isn’t a collection of forwards or defensemen or even a one-round sizzling goaltender who can stop them.

That latter one really stands out for me. The Penguins just blew away the NHL’s best statistical goalie in Craig Anderson, they had their way all year with the consensus most talented goalie in Henrik Lundqvist … and I don’t see why that wouldn’t carry over to the best remaining at the position in Jonathan Quick.

But yeah, that’s getting way ahead, which is how these conversations usually do — and should — end abruptly.

>> Here’s our full Penguins coverage this morning, including a Joe Starkey column.

>> The Pirates’ valiant late rally beat the Tigers, 5-3, and raised their record to 23-11 in games decided by two runs or less. It also brought — of course — another Jason Grilli save, as he’s now 22 for 22. That means Grilli has now recorded an official save in exactly two-thirds of the team’s wins.

All of that is insane.

The Pirates also are one shy of the major-league lead in save opportunities with 28 and No. 3 in converting those at 82 percent.

An insane combination.

To his credit, Clint Hurdle conceded to TribLIVE Radio yesterday morning that, no matter how good these results look, it’s not sustainable without more than a couple guys being trusted at the back of the bullpen.

This was his interview with our Ken Laird and Guy Junker

Here’s more from FanGraphs for those of you into advanced stats. Check BABIP and strand rates. Check out the Pirates ranking third in what FanGraphs calls ‘High Leverage’ situations. And the starters seventh-to-last in innings pitched.

Funny how all those allegedly ‘objective’ sabermetricians who went to any length to defend the Pirates’ management for years have fallen suddenly silent on stuff this obvious.

>> Sean Spence finally speaks at the Steelers’ OTAs and insists he isn’t done, by Mark Kaboly.

>> Hope to have you for the chat. Remember, as soon as you see the post go up, you can submit an entry.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. NHL can’t possibly ask for a better final four than Bruins-Penguins and Kings-Blackhawks for their respective conference finals.

    The Big Bad Bruins coming off an amazing game 7 comeback against the Maple Leafs were able to dispatch the Rangers in five games as they were able to match New York’s defensive approach and were just better offensively. It is no wonder the Rangers finally pulled the trigger and fired John Tortorella on Wednesday.

    Just as the Bruins had a tough first round, Penguins were put to the best by the Islanders and though the offensive fire power for Pittsburgh continued through the series and against the Senators, better team defense helped put them into the driver’s seat against Ottawa.

    Meanwhile out West, Chicago survived a potentially devastating disallowed goal and were able to rise to the occasion in overtime to beat the Red Wings 3-1… ok 2-1. The Blackhawks were the best team all season beating teams with ease en route to their President’s Trophy.

    For them to take the next step, they’ll have to get by the Kings and Jon Quick. I just don’t see that happening as the Kings have the superior team defense, better goaltending and let’s not forget, they have some pretty good fire power themselves with Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Mike RIchards, Dustin Penner and game seven leader Justin Williams.

    Before the season, I had Penguins vs Kings and so I’m sticking with those two teams.

    Penguins in 5 and Kings in 6.

  2. Pirates have played 32% of their season schedule and have 109 games to play and 34% to 95 wins. This team might actually do it!

    DK: They’re actually going to win all 109, and Grilli will wind up with an even 100 saves. Controversially, he’ll be edged out in Cy Young voting by Jeanmar Gomez AND Jeff Locke, each 20-game winners.

  3. Forgot who said this on the game thread, but I second the motion that the Pens just might want to start wearing Pirates jerseys around. Specifically, Travis Snider’s. Man, does that kid always seem to be around the action of late, or what?

    Oh, and no shame at all in the run support for A.J. tonight. Five runs will do quite nicely, thank you.

    DK: If you had to guess — just for fun — how many Penguins would you say know who Travis Snider is?

    My guess is one (Malkin), possibly Orpik, too. Or no one.

    • Sporting thoughts ona Stats-are-meaningless-but-they’re-not-meaningless Thursday….

      * DK is a columnist. He supports his views usually with some sort of evidence. So if he is cherry picking stats, then we’re all cherry picking stats.

      * By the way, there’s nothing wrong with cherry picking stats. Everyone does it in all walks of life. You’re trying to find evidence to support a particular point of view.

      * I think the unsustainable part of what’s going on with the Buccos right now is that they decide not to play offense for the beginning of games. Yes, it makes for great late drama if you can come back late, but if you keep putting yourself behind the 8-ball, you’re going to get burned.

      * That said, if the Pirates can win tonight and win tomorrow, that’ll be 20 wins in May. They started May with a 3-4 record, and then have won 15 of their last 19 (2 more would make it 17 of 21). Don’t care what the sabermetrics say, that’s damn good baseball.

      * The Pirates executed a suicide squeeze last night. I think they work on fundamentals in the minors.

      * I found it funny that Greg Brown assumed Alvarez was going to score on Snider’s RBI double, so when the play was actually close (and if the throw wasn’t a mile high, Petey would’ve been hosed) he didn’t call it that way, b/c he had already said “Alvarez will score” as soon as the ball got over T.Hunter’s head.

      * AJ Burnett is 3-5 with a 2.72 ERA and 89Ks in 76IP.

      * A lot has been made about our starting pitchers not going deep into games. And how this will lead to added stress on the bullpen, and this will lead to the bullpen falling apart. But…what if our starters do start to go deeper into games (Genie Gomez just threw 7!)? Has anyone considered this possibility?

      * Back to stats…yes, they show what has happened in the past. And yes, they are used to predict the future (as they’re usually more reliable than crystal balls). But, obviously they’re not the end-all-be-all. The stats may say that this ball club will regress. But, do the players believe that? Don’t think so.

      * Love the fact the bullpen has nicknamed themselves “The Shark Tank”. Also love the fact that Jason Grilli had a shark tank installed in the Pirates clubhouse. What a crazy bunch of guys we have….

      * Someone (think it was either NMR or Milo) said the other day that it’s easier when the Pirates stink. Yes, that may be true. But, is it as fun as what we’re seeing now?

      * 1 last thing, DK is not here to be a “sunshine & rainbows” guy. He’s here to call ‘em like he sees ‘em. Yes the team is playing well, but if he feels they’ll regress, then he’ll write as such. If the team keeps playing as it has (or close; THIS level seems unsustainable) I think you’ll see DK start to come around. I think. Maybe I should stop thinking…..

      Looking forward to the chat.


    • Outside of a few selected cities, and only the best hockey fans their, who ANYONE know who Malkin or Orpik is. Get real.

  4. Hey DK,

    My heart says you’re right about if “the Penguins play like they did in the final two games against Ottawa, they’re the champions.” But as a Pittsburgh fan residing in Chicago — having watched more than a few Hawks games this season — I’m going to temper that with a little caution. When the Hawks are on (which has been most of the season and post-season), they’re incredible. …If the Pens meet them in the finals, I hope you’re correct.

    DK: I respect that.

    • Either final will be awesome pens v kings or hawks and bruins v kings or hawks NHL will have what it wants and needs RATINGS. but D.K could you possibly explain why Root will not carry any not even stanley cup games for pens. How could the league or networks just take the games off the Pittsburgh local T.V? Thank you. Love the chats,Blogs final word all of it Pittsburgh is lucky to have you!

  5. I will agree that there are advanced metrics that suggest the bubble may burst, but I honestly believe that this year’s team is a step up. It’s not entirely reliant on Cutch being a MVP candidate, and they only have one wiffle ball bat in the lineup on a regular basis.

    A wise man suggested last year that we enjoy the Ride of the Pirates while it lasted. I’m going with that this year, or at least I will once the Ride of the Penguins ends.

  6. Let’s keep it going Buccos!

    Another big hit for Pedro despite poor OBP.

    I’ll be enjoying from Sec 108 tonight ;)

  7. Rooting for the Pens to win, but could not disagree more with “If the Penguins play like they did in the final two games against Ottawa, they’re the champions.” The Pens have beat two teams that likely wouldn’t have made the playoffs in the Western Conf. To say the Pens at their best can beat the Kings/Hawks at their best is simply wild conjecture. The Kings or the Hawks should be the favorites against Boston/Pittsburgh in what seemed like a fairly weak Eastern Conf this year. Just my opinion. Should be a great four team tourney.

    • Since no one from the East played anyone from the West, how has everyone decided the West is automatically better? Why is it wild conjecture for someone else to say the Pens could beat the Hawks or Kings at their best, but it is perfectly reasonable for you to say the Kings or Hawks should be favored to beat either the Pens or Bruins?

      • Because the Kings are defending Stanley Cup champions with a far superior goaltender. The Hawks won the President’s Trophy and had a record-setting point streak in a conference with more depth. I’m not saying that the Penguins can’t beat either of them (I hope they do), but to declare them the eventual champions if they play their best hockey vs. Kings/Hawks best hockey is just not good analysis in my humble opinion.

        • Ok, I’m fine with that. It’s just opinion vs. opinion. I think we both hope the West teams are not superior to the Pens.

    • That’s not fair. You can’t put the isles and sens randomly in the west and assume they’d do poorly. Both teams vastly overachieved that’s true. Especially the senators with all the injuries. I also still believe the islanders could have swept the senators in a playoff series. The isles are probably the one team in the EC that compare with the WC. Fast, gritty team.

  8. Well, if it’s not sustainable, I guess I’ll just quit watching till October.

    See yinz then!

  9. DK – Apparently it was a monumental mistake on your part when you mentioned “cherry picked” sabre metrics in regards to the Bucs.
    Keep in mind that there is a pseudo, uppercrust of Pirate fans. It’s created an almost civil war of Buc followers..Created by WheelingDealers that fill our bellies full of propaganda.
    No one knows exactly when they came, where they came from or how they got there, but they are there….Blogging.
    They even somehow deal in breaking news now.
    I find it strange and unusual, but I’ve seen and heard enough of it to know what power it feels it holds.

    DK: I wouldn’t overestimate. It’s been, quite literally, the same 25-30 names for five years now. Rarely changes. They’re very vocal but very small.

    • DK, honestly, YOU give these people more of a voice than they have themselves.


      DK: That is a powerful point. Consider it received, my friend.

      • Agreed.

      • DK…

        Is it more important to tell those 25-30 names “I told you so” just to make your point while depriving people who love your work of what you see happening now with this team? I get the numbers and the regressions and the fall from the lofty perch… but, this team is doing some really things and those things are either glossed over or avoided so you can continue to tell us that this is unsustainable. We know. The coaches know. The management knows.

        What we’re wanting is your words and thoughts about this excellent start and the level of play this group has achieved. You’re too good at your job to avoid this run. And I do understand your schedule with the Pens…but this week, this interminably long week of nothing on the Pens, I was hoping for a check-in with the PBC. Again, I get your schedule, but throwing future numbers at us every day, well, we know the future and it isn’t going to be this great. Or it will be. Just hoping you don’t miss it.

        DK: I appreciate that, Paul. Our paper ran a Pirates column in Sunday’s paper, by Starkey. And I’ve done a couple extended blog items in past week, one of which was only 10 percent about reversion.

        You don’t mention Steelers, but I have same regret at only being over there for one of give six OTAs so far. This year especially, I plan to make them a huge part of what I do.

        Right now, it’s hockey. That’s how this has been set up, and I’m enthusiastically in favor.

        • Funny thing about baseball. The minute you throw an “I told you so” in someone’s direction, you’re likely to have one coming back your way soon enough.

    • I’d post a reply to you, Daq, but there seems to be some interference on the tinfoil hat airwaves and I can’t get my instructions from Nutting Central Headquarters.

    • DK – Thanks for the estimate numbers.
      I will monitor and cherry pick my results….lol

  10. “Funny how all those allegedly ‘objective’ sabermetricians who went to any length to defend the Pirates’ management for years have fallen suddenly silent on stuff this obvious.”

    I’m not quite an SMer but I can get lost in a statistic or two.

    Dejan, when you first brought up the starting pitching length about three weeks ago, I piled on with another stat that showed the same risk.

    But here’s the thing, Dejan. While I can read a stat, while I quoted one (once), while I am worried about EXACTLY the issue you wrote and said so (once), going back further, while I called for a front office clean-out this past offseason…I made my points and moved on.

    In short, while I am concerned about whether this ride can continue, I am enjoying the ride while it lasts, hoping it (somehow) lasts.

    And see no point in printing and reprinting my opinions trying to prove I’m right, even hoping I’m right. Or in mocking other’s hope and enthusiasm.

    Instead, I am hoping I’m wrong and enjoying the ride.

    DK: Enjoy, Drew.

    • Good post Drew. I think DK has lost it when it comes to the Buccos. Hopefully they’ll keep up the great play. If not, I’m going to enjoy it all the same. He’s never gotten over the fact that Nutting didn’t fire the whole crew after last year’s collapse.

      Lets hope the Pens keep winning as well.

      • I mostly AGREE with Dejan’s statistical points.

        And ALSO wrote during that past offseason that much of the Pirates leadership should be relieved.

        STILL hold to those opinions.

        But I am nonetheless enjoying the ride.

        And agree with you that Dejan is over the top with this, if that’s what you meant by losing it.

        • Yes, over the top is a better way to describe it. Or, beating a dead horse.

          Like OshKosh mentioned earlier, the Orioles surprised people last year. Maybe it’s finally our turn.

  11. “Keep in mind that there is a pseudo, uppercrust of Pirate fans. It’s created an almost civil war of Buc followers..Created by WheelingDealers that fill our bellies full of propaganda.”

    The Oscars aren’t for 9 months Daquido but I’ll congratulate you now!

  12. WOW, The Pirates are 33-20 and we’re wagging our finger at ‘objective’ sabermetricians who went to any length to defend the Pirates’ management for years

    I have absolutely no idea what a BABIP is, but I am enjoying the ride. They are winning and that is all I care about. I don’t care who gets credit or blame, or who is tired.

    I’m going to the game tonight. DK, maybe I’ll see you over there….unless you’re tired from covering the 6th straight day of practice.

    DK: Have a good time, TC. I’ll be writing Saturday column since — as I neglected to mention above — my Friday/Saturday column days were flipped so I can advance Game 1 on game day.

  13. I harken back to a simpler era, when one would sit in the stands at a baseball game, eat peanuts, fill out a program, and just enjoy the game. You didnt worry about the 43rd ranked outfielder at night, when the breeze was coming form the northsoutheastwest, with the babipfipfapeieio, worrying about how the % of nachos would affect the fight of the ball, resulting in a bad uzr. Enough!

    “Stats guys” cherry-pick the stats they want to use to justify the way they want to spin things. To me, this takes a lot of the joy out of baseball. I am “enjoying the ride” this year, but persoanally, am tired of the advanced metrics. Maybe I am just wanting a simpler time, but if I want stats all the time, I will call up an old college roommate.

    I agree that stats do have a place in the game, but the over-reliance on them is way out there.

    Sometimes I feel as if though stats are used by certain fans to further a “superiority complex” , at the expense of other fans…….. AKA the “smartest man in the room” syndrome.

    I dont need 50,000 pages of stats to tell that the low innings the starters have had so far is not a good thing. Sure, it hasnt effected the team yet, but we dont know that will be the case later in the year.

    As I am a simple Hippo, I wish for a simpler game.
    Overkill of stats wont allow that to happen.

    • me too, Hipposter. And good morning to you too :)
      How ’bout them Buccos??? :) :) :)

      Screw the stats!

      • Mornin’, Jandy!!!

        Simple Hippos cant be expected to screw the stats……. they dont kiss! ;)

        Busy day ahead for your Hippo……………
        will check back later in the day………

        Oh, yes indeed, great win last night!!
        Only stat I cared about was 5-3………….. good guys!

        See you later. and dont forget…….Please dont feed the Hippos! ;)

    • ““Stats guys” cherry-pick the stats they want to use to justify the way they want to spin things.”

      Thank you!

      While stats tell us what has happened in the past, and can sometimes work to predict, that is not always the case. Until we see what happens with each of these individual players over the course of the next few months/season, we won’t know whether they will tire, get stronger, have replacements come up from the minors, or exactly what will happen.

      A buddy of mine in college for one of his classes put together stats in 1979 showing how there was no way the Bucs could beat the Orioles in the World Series. And hopefully everyone knows how that turned out.


    • Triple amen and it’s about time someone said it.

      I still wonder how the sabermet guys would have viewed the 1960 WS where we were cowtailed 3 times, but won in 7. I can attest to Game 2, which we lost 16-3. My dad took me out of school (2nd grade) to go to the game.

      Maz circling the bases in Game 7 must have really gone against the metric overview.

      • I think maybe the problem comes in, Lucky, when the SABR guys started showing up and tried to assert some sort of air of knowing more than people who had watched the game forever and happened to know more tha a thing or two about baseball themselves. When the SABR guys do that, the traditionalists feel insulted (rightly so) and dig in their heels and stubbornly refuse to accept any new ideas simply because they came from these know-it-alls. It is possible to benefit from both views, as I have. I find myself coaching my 11 yr old son and telling him a lot of the things my dad taught me about baseball, which are so wise and I know from experience happen to be true. But, I must admit that I am also a stats guy, and was a stats guy before I knew anything of these advanced metrics. So, I have always tried to respect both sides of this argument. I have tried to add new ways of looking at things while keeping in mind the things I know are true. You are so right about the ’60 Series, which was before my time, but I know the history and I know that Pirates team had no business thinking it could beat a Yankees team that all the metrics in the world would have said should win 4-0. If those Pirates had believed all that garbage, the greatest World Series of all-time would have happened in some other year than 1960. Fortunately for us, the Bucs believed they were the better team, and went out and proved it.

        I love that baseball can be interpreted in so many ways. I just wish more people on the SABR side would respect the views of the tradtionalists a bit more. If that happened, the traditionalists would probably be more likely to accept more SABR views of baseball.

    • Hipposter, I have to agree that overindulgence in stats tends to take away from enjoyment of the game. I’m guessing that BAPIP was invented by hitters who could only dream of .300, and wanted to somehow justify their continued presence in the lineup.

      Give me some of that old time religion – batting average, wins/losses, and yes final standings!

    • I am a Math major with a concentration in stats. I remember my first stats class; The teacher said, ” The best thing about stats is you can convience anybody of anything as long as you omitt the information that you don’t want to include.” Pretty much sums up your theory. I know with my stats experience I can make numbers say just about anything I want them to say with enough time and data.

  14. I remember last year thinking that both the Orioles and Athletics would eventually fall to earth, crash and burn, allowing the stronger teams in their division to take their rightful positions in the playoffs. That never happened.

    I have no idea what the advanced metrics forecasted about those eventual playoff teams. Happily in life, somethings don’t always make sense.

    • Amen, Oshkosh.
      I was hoping the Wings would pull it out last night, but it wasn’t to be.


      • Chicago deserved to win and, as Dejan noted, the four best teams advanced.

        I think Chicago and LA will be a war but I think the Pens either sweep or win in five. I think the Pens will mentally own the B’s and their goalkeeper. Just a feeling I have-don’t know why exactly.

        • I hope you’re right about the Pens, Oshkosh. Can’t wait till Saturday!

        • I think if they mentally owned the B’s and their G that Jeremy Jacobs would have bought them out or sued them for anti-trust violations by now. :-)

        • I’m with you, Osh! I think the Pens will handle the Bruins in 5 or 6, at most. I just think something clicked on that night in Ottawa where we gave away the game late. I think they finally said to themselves that they were giving away too many games, and it would be different from now on in this year’s playoffs. So far, so good for the next 2 games. Now, I realize the Bruins are better than the Sens. I just think we have too much for them.

  15. JAL’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Are Jeanmar Gomez and Jeff Locke a Product of a Successful System?

    Pirates Use Four-Run Inning To Knock Out Sanchez, Win 5-3

    Prospect Watch: Taillon Struggles With Control, Bell and Lambo Homer

    Five Candidates For a Promotion and When They Could Be Promoted

    Pirates Notebook: Hurdle Not Too Worried About Reliever Innings

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates come back to beat Tigers, 5-3

    Pirates shouldn’t let Jeanmar Gomez’s performance so far lull them into complacency


    Game 53: Pirates 5 Tigers 3

    8 The Green Weenie

    Pedro Ignites Bucs In 5-3 win

    9 Rumbunter

    Don’t Forget Where Pittsburgh Pirates Offense Was Year Ago

    Pirates Jeff Locke Taking Advantage of Internship With A.J. Burnett

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 5, Tigers 3

    • Because I Could Not Stop For Death Susan McKeown and Natalie Merchant -Irish singer McKeown and US singer Merchant get together on this poem by Emily Dickinson poem

      • Wow. What a find. Saw 10000 Maniacs open for REM back in the 20′s (as Drew would say). Been a Merchant fan ever since.

        Good way to start what promises to be a long day for me.

  16. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Baseball Nation

    The Pirates, Mark Appel, Scott Boras, and the obvious

    12 Rant Sports

    The Curious Case of Pittsburgh Pirates’ Jeanmar Gomez

    13 City of Champions

    Is it safe to separate the Pittsburgh Pirates from past failures?

    14 Detroit Free Press

    Pittsburgh 5, Detroit 3: Quick-strike Pirates stun Tigers

    15 Bradenton Herald

    Bradenton Marauders | Top prospect Polanco thriving under pressure to perform

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates Vs Tigers Game Preview

    17 Redbird Rants

    NL Central: The Best Division in Baseball

    18 PBC Site

    Pirates rise up for late rally in win over Tigers

    Notebook: Shark-infested clubhouse: ‘Pen installs aquatic tank


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Making the Case for Harper, Machado, or Trout

    20 Fangraphs

    Rick Porcello’s Latest Tease

  17. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers David DeCastro is ready to put lessons to task

    Steelers highly drafted offensive line vs. draft day side note defensive line

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers T Mike Adams Resigned To The Fact He Will Be On Right Side In 2013

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Premier League 2013-14: what the summer has in store… How the top flight’s class of 2013 should spend pre-season.….html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 29th May, 2013


    25 Sports Illustrated

    NHL playoffs: Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference Finals notes

    26 The Republican

    <b Boston Bruins have to find way to shut down Pittsburgh Penguins' deadly power-play attack

    27 USA Today

    Subplots spice up Bruins-Penguins conference final

  18. Good analysis of how the Pens/Bruins match ups might work out best for the Pens:

  19. DK, I was looking for the post where you compared the Russell Martin acquisition to the Matt Morris trade. I scrolled back through your archives and it no longer appears to be there. Do you think you could re-post or re-visit that comparison?

    DK: See reply to your reply below.

    And welcome to the forum.

    • To be fair, DK made it clear that he wasn’t comparing them based on talent. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I believe he said they were similar in the fact that they both last ditch efforts by the GM to keep their job.

      DK: Sssshhhhh … you’re killing a perfectly good narrative by telling the truth.

  20. So now we’re supposed to presume that the only way we should enjoy the season is if/when the metrics say so or tell us, “Hey, this is the REAL Pirates team…they still might not reach .500.”

    We’re interested in what you have to say about the team…their performances…the excellence with which they’re playing…the standard of play that has been raised. Yeah, so the numbers say they’re due for a major regression. Ok, well, when it happens, let us know.

    But really, could you deal with the present just a little bit more?

    • +1

      I remember what those geeks said about Paul Maholm. While he continues to make millions at the “5th spot” in the Braves’ rotation, those guys are washing their clothes in their mom’s basement.

      • Now, they would say Maholm is great at getting goundballs. If your entire view is about metrics, I think you might tend to change the metrics around to suit your argument.

  21. For a guy who is clearly infatuated with “Pirate bloggers”, Dejan clearly doesn’t read much of their work.

    If so, he would’ve seen at least a few of the 417 articles in the last two weeks about how Jeff Locke and Jeanmar Gomez’ xFIP says their performances aren’t sustainable. As if anybody with eyes and a brain needed to be told that neither pitcher is actually a sub-3 ERA guy.

    Dejan, seriously, let it go man. You’re off the deep end.

  22. Nice to see Mercer come thru last night. I don’t think Barmes gets that bunt down to score the run. Looks like Hurdle has more trust in him and the bottom of order should benefit with his bat.

    • Let’s hope Mercer seizes this opportunity and becomes the everyday SS

    • Barmes attempted a bunt, under far less stressful circumstances, a few days earlier. The pitch was a foot inside and probably would have hit him if he had not stuck his bat out and popped it up directly to the 3b.

  23. My biggest worry for the Bucs this season isn’t whether they can sustain their current success. Maybe they can- crazier things have happened (cough at Travis Snider hitting home run #2 this season).

    My biggest worry is that they’re 13 freakin games over .500 and in 3rd place! I know it’s early, but good Lord!

    Their division has by far the most combined wins of the top 3 teams in any division. Wasn’t NL Central supposed to be weakest division this year? Plus you can add in the Brewers once they turn it around as they seem to every year. Weakest division my foot.

  24. A little late to the Stats discussion (I tend to spend some time asleep, often at the wheel), but here goes: The heart of baseball IS statistics. The problem is obviously how to interpret them. The truth about stats is that they are only useful in the “long term.” IMHO, the only real question is whether 162 games is really the long term? This team keeps winning improbably, just as Cutch keeps slamming into outs and Locke & Gomez keep putting up scoreless innings. My hope is that all this improbability is a digression from the norm — I saw the ’60 Pirates and would argue this team can beat the odds for another 100 + games. My claim is as valid as any long term statistical prognostication. Finally, if you thought 1997 was a freak show . . .

  25. I still think they need a RF bat with some pop. Snider has been better this year, but to me fits the mold perfectly as a fourth OF. He could start once or twice a week to provide depth and rest, and would be a great option off the bench as a PH. Depth like that is how you build a championship club.

  26. NY Times sportswriter Barry Popik didn’t coin the phrase “Miracle Mets” until 3 days after New York defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series. Until then, most New York newspapers doggedly referred to the Shea Stadium denizens as the “Unsustainable Mets”, so there is a precedent here. ;)

  27. You know what we REALLY need?!

    We need Neal Huntington to come out and say “We don’t really see this team as a 33 win team to this point. Our numbers below the numbers see it at around a 27 win team”.

    Then they need to schedule a skeet shoot with sponsors during the next off day.
    But only the relievers can go.

  28. The backhanded complements and ridiculous sarcasm regarding the Bucs are getting really old DK. I have followed your Pirate coverage for years. Have loved your work, which has always seemed to give insight into the feel of the team, the personalities, the heart. I truly even appreciate your criticisms, and the willingness to call out the team and management when mistakes are made and things are done poorly. This year, (and I know it most likely has to do with the Pens deep run into the playoffs)all we are getting is stats and thinly veiled comments suggesting that the Pirates will regress and once again fall flat. It’s obvious at this point that you’d love nothing more than to see that regression happen. You may get your chance; they may fall flat again. I choose to not dwell and obsess over stats that can only describe the past, and most certainly do NOT always accurately predict what is to come. I’ll proudly root for this team, regardless of your attempts to tell us all that we should expect nothing but the worst.

    DK: Thank you for being a longtime reader, and welcome to the forum.

    Never know. Orioles last year had similarly unsustainable metrics, especially run differential, and all they did was make playoffs in tough division.

    It’s rare, but it happens.

  29. I heard it’s going to snow next winter. It’s making it completely impossible for me to enjoy the beautiful sunshine today.

  30. At the risk of sounding like an allegedly objective sabremetritian, I took Dejan’s advice and looked at his FanGraphs link.

    Sure enough, he’s right. Unsustainably high strand rate and unsustainably low BABIP from the pitching staff.

    What he failed to mention was that those unsustainable stats combined to yield a FIP of 3.71, just half a run higher than the staffs actual ERA. Good for 7th in all of baseball.

    If that is what unsustainable looks like, can anybody explain to me why we should be worried?

    • Why worry? Be happy :) :) :)

    • Nothing I hate worse than these people that cherry pick stats. :)

      • Haha, funniest part about the “objective sabremetritian” rant is that this has been around as long as they’ve been keeping stats.

        My real, live buddies who don’t have a blog and couldn’t tell Bill James from Rick James do the same thing with the conventional numbers.

        Anytime you hear a guy rant about people cherry picking stats, its usually pretty easy to find an instance where that guy cherry picked stats.

      • Oh, and I’m still waiting for Dejan to answer me when I asked, twice, how he’s calculating these projected innings for Melancon and Grilli.

        Stiiiill waiting. Stiiiiill waiting. (SeanAY, name that cover)

    • Speak the Queen’s English, please.

      • Bloody good show!

      • Cheerio!

      • Blimey! Those cheeky Canadian fellows will bite your arm off if the Stanley Cup ever doth return to their homeland. Alas, it’s all sixes and sevens in the north this year.

        I tried.

        Warm ale anyone?

      • Anyone for tennis (wouldn’t that be nice)?

        Great song by Cream, and a solid question. Is anyone watching the French Open (a tennis Grand Slam/big deal)? If so, there is a free app called “tennis channel everywhere” that allows you to watch multiple courts. There was an excruciating rain delay earlier, but things seem to be bopping along now.

        My picks for the French Open (even if you are not asking):
        Men = Nadal (yay!)
        Women = Serena Williams (it’s time to retire, already)

        And no, I do not work for The Tennis Channel. Yet… I’m still waiting on the first paycheck.

    • Half a run is pretty huge for a staff. One extra run every other day for a team that plays a lot of 1 run games translates to at least 1 extra loss every week, possible 2.

  31. Anyone else get the feeling that DK will be thrilled if/when the Bucs collapse? The “I told you so” column will be his finest work.

  32. In 2009, a certain 28 year old Pirate put up numbers that grossly exceeded anything that he had previously logged in the majors. He was a Twins reject who was scooped up by the Pirates off the proverbial scrap heap.

    You nicknamed him “The Legend.” Although my 45 year old memory isn’t what it used to be, I recall reading about how The Legend’s performance was one for the Pirates’ history books. I don’t recall reading about BABIP, swing-and-miss %, or issues pertaining to sustainability. It was about what The Legend was doing at that time and the … dare I right it? … the fun that was had when watching The Legend as if he was a Phoenix that had arisen from the ashes.

    Fast forward to today. Fact: the ’13 Pirates have won 18 games in May. Fact: no Pirates team EVER in this franchise’s “proud history” has ever won 18 games in May. Fact: the ’13 Pirates have logged 33 wins by May 29th. Fact: no Pirates team EVER in the franchise’s “proud history” has posted 33 wins by May 29th. Conclusion: this is a historic start for the PBC – the city’s baseball team.

    This team has the best player to don a “P” on his hat since Barry Bonds in Andrew McCutchen. It has a home grown player in Neil Walker. It has an exciting young OFer – who may be more athletic than McCutchen – in Starling Marte. It has solid but not spectacular platoons at 1B and RF. It has the best catcher since before Jason Kendall. Pedro Alvarez is maddening but there is no denying that he has the brute strength on par with Stargell and has played a better-than-average defense thus far. The pitching staff is a nice combination of veterans and youngsters. Wilson dials it up to 97 mph from the left side. Melancon’s sinker can be devastating. Watson can be effective as a lefty. Burnett and Rodriguez are proven starters. Liriano isn’t a bad 3rd starter. Some combination of Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and/or Jeanmar Gomez as the #4 or # 5? Many teams have worse.

    Which brings me to Grilli. He’s the ’13 version of ’09′s The Legend. Yet, instead of relishing in a truly amazing and historic start by a player who is relishing his role and generating incredible results while wearing either “Pirates” or “Pittsburgh” on the front of his jersey, it appears that the conversation focuses on sustainability and how his prior numbers don’t “mesh” with current numbers. Neither did The Legend’s in ’09 but that apparently didn’t matter. Watching The Legend was fun. That’s what mattered. Grilli’s 3 K dominance of Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder on Tuesday night was awesome. Great theatre. MLB Network called it the best closer performance of the year. His 22 saves and utter dominance has been great fun. All while playing for Pittsburgh’s – your beloved city – baseball team.

    You write that no Penguin likely knows who Travis Snider is. That may be. But … since you are close to the hockey club … maybe you could start to tell them about Snider. His lunchbox approach to playing the game. He hustles. He’s gritty. He’s got a short quick swing with some pop behind it. He plays solid defense. He’s not going to be an All-Star but he’ll be a contributor. His approach very much reminds me of a former nose-to-the-grindstone Pirate named Turner Ward. A player whom fans could rally around and appreciate.

    This Pirates roster hasn’t had 20 straight sub-.500 seasons. It is filled with a mixture of young, old, spectacular and solid contributors. For someone who exorts as much civic pride as you do, I would have thought that you’d find more pleasure in some of what is happening on the field. It’s a better story than The Legend in ’09. But you can see similarities.

    • Wow. Just wow.

    • Nicely written. Good points.

    • Beautiful.

      It’s May 30th, and the Pirates have the 2nd best record in baseball. Due to the financial inequalities of Major League Baseball, that fact in of itself is one or two standard deviations away from the expected value. Luckily, I have forgotten most of what I learned in my college statistics courses, so I’m just holding on tight and enjoying what has been a spectacular ride so far.

    • Well done.

      Dejan has officially lost his audience. Reality check time.

    • Nicely done.

    • My sentiments exactly. Great post! To focus on the negative and constantly look toward an eventual collapse is to miss the many great storylines of this early season.

      I get the feeling that whether he would admit it or not, DK “the fan” was angered by the embarrassing collapses of the past two seasons. Nothing wrong with that, a lot of us were upset. Now, I know he will claim that he is not a “fan” and that his job as a journalist and columnist is to just state the facts and throw in some opinion now and again. But don’t try to tell me that he, as a lifelong resident of this city, is not a “fan” of these teams that he covers. I think the snide remarks and constant citing of “unsustainable” stats is the hurt “fan” coming out in the blog and column, attempting to brace himself for another collapse.

    • Great post No 9.

    • Not really an argument against this sentiment and not trying to rain on the parade since I’m following it too, but the 20 losing seasons and 2 consecutive, massive, inexcusable failures sours many people’s positivity towards PBC- justifiably.

      I’m just as leery as Dejan though maybe for different reasons. Twice I’ve seen PBC give themselves an excellent chance to break the streak and even compete for the postseason only to see them flounder and concede defeat. Their desire and fire to achieve those goals was nonexistent from top to bottom last year at the end. THAT is a bigger spike to the coffin than a reliever/closer coming down to Earth.

    • Great points. I think it is a mistake to compare Grilli’s current numbers to his CAREER numbers. He had obviously had a huge turnaround after coming back from a major injury and has been pitching great since 2011. Going back to his stats since then, the main difference is his WHIP.

      2013: 13.9 K/9, 0.69 WHIP
      2012: 13.8 K/9, 1.14 WHIP
      2011: 10.2 K/9, 1.19 WHIP

      Grilli’s control has been excellent this season and although he will regress somewhat, it won’t be that bad

    • @ No. 9 – a truly awesome read, enjoyed the passion behind your articulate post.

    • Awesome post.

      Am so hoping this is the year, as Roberto, Jr. said it wasn’t allowed to reach 21. Yes, there is a dread, thanks to the past 2 seasons, of when someone pinches them and they wake up. But these are players, and have not been around for most of the past 20 years, so it isn’t on them. Keep their heads with them, have strong leadership from AJ and Martin and Cutch….. You just never know…. That’s why they play the game.

      Otherwise, we may as well just have them go out and play Strat-O-Matic.


  33. Just my opinion, but I will admit that I think the Pirates have been pretty fortunate this year. Just taking their record in 1 & 2 run games into consideration they are 23-11. If they start to lose those games the rest of the year, they won’t keep up at this 101 win pace. I don’t think anyone expects this pace to continue, anyway. But, I certainly expect them to finish over .500 with our w/o good fortune. I actually do believe they are a pretty good team. And, if they do happen to keep up the 101 win pace, great! People can say we are lucky all they want. As I said yesterday, the Twins won 2 World Series’ a couple of decades ago with teams that were barely .500 in the regular season. The Ravens just won a Super Bowl, and I don’t know anyone who thought they were the best team in the NFL. My point is, I think most teams that have great seasons had a lot of good fortune for the year. Sometimes they don’t completely regress that season, and they ride it a long way. I’m going to enjoy the ride because it has been 20 long years since a once proud franchise has been relevant. Everyone should take from that what they want. It is not up to me to tell other fans or Dejan how to perceive the Bucs. But, it is fun arguing about it in a cordial way to me.

    Finally, as much as our pitchers appear to be benefiting from some good fortune in terms of inducing ground balls and getting more than their share of outs, I think our offense is better than it has performed so far and may be due to PRO-gress to the norm. I also think some of our pitching performance is due to the fact that this team does some things you just can’t see in box scores, meaning they catch more than their share of batted balls by the opposition because they have a good defense. Maybe, just maybe, as our pitching comes back to earth a bit, our offense will find its way and our defense will continue to do its job. I don’t know how likely that is, but it seems as likely as just saying we are on the verge of collapse.

    Go Pens! Squash the Bruins!

  34. My personal humanoid reflection on stats is that they’re great for evaluating a season(s) and have an obvious impact on how individual games are managed and played. They have more direct importance to upper management than to in-game personnel. That being said, I don’t follow the SABRes (Buffalo or stats fanatics) closely and don’t buy into their overall value much. Not saying they’re useless, but I think they’re overrated. Partly because I don’t entirely understand them, partly because they’re inherently flawed to some degree.

    No matter how much we might try to predict the future using numbers based on the past- history- it’s simply not possible because of the inherent number of variables involved in the game of baseball. On a large-scale, these include but aren’t limited to injuries, finances, human miscalculation and error at the upper levels, and many others. On a game-scale, things like wind, light, temperature, humidity, ground conditions and many others can affect any one critical moment in a single game and countless moments over the course of a season.

    IMO much of the SABR craze largely ignores one critical element- humans. Humans adapt, change, evolve and react in such a way that past statistics can’t explain baseball outcomes effectively enough for my liking. If they could, we could assume that the highest payroll clubs should win most of the time. As a general trend, the best statistical players, whether it be HR, K, ERA, RBI or whatever one considers important, get paid the most.

    Teams like the RSox, Yanks, Tigers, Angels and Dodgers should dominate, not just be good, and have won many more championships over the past 15-20 years than they have. Yes, this argument could be dissected to the last penny per stat, but the general trend and assumption are my point.

    To use a historical reference unrelated yet not-so-unrelated, the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 is considered to have been doomed from the start. Many historians won’t look at it any other way. It’s not every day a pompous pretty boy prince and a ragtag army try to take on the most powerful military in the world at the time on its own soil- with good reason. Wasn’t sustainable and the Jacobites weren’t good enough militarily, didn’t have the leaders and quality soldiers to capture the Crown in the end.

    But what they did succeed at was advancing from Scotland into the heart of England while winning several battles, forcing the King to prepare to flee and causing a huge financial crisis for a time. The Crown brought in the reinforcements (or depth) and almost a year later defeated the Jacobites soundly at Culloden. If the end of the conflict came 7 months into the rebellion (October) the Jacobites would have been the clear victors- somewhat ironic timing.

    To summarize my babbling, the more scientific prediction and summary analysis can look back and say “told you so- it was predictable”. But to the people involved, it wasn’t so cut and dry. An incredibly similar rebellion took place not long after in 1775 and was formally announced in 1776. The SABRes by all means would predict the same outcome for this one and rightly so; but it obviously turned out quite differently. It shouldn’t have.

    So putting the SABRes aside, my biggest statistical gripe with the Pirates is incredibly basic yet pretty profound- 20 losing seasons and 2 consecutive major collapses that defy logic, SABRes, common sense, you name it. Again, I’m not saying stats aren’t important nor that they’re not useful. But at some point let’s let the HUMANS play the GAME. Even Pedro Alvarez hits an opposite field single every once in awhile.

  35. While the concerns about BABIP and strand rate are legit, other advanced stats show that the staff may not come crashing down to earth. For one, while the team BABIP does rate lowest in the league, it is actually closer to the median percentage than those teams with the highest rates. The team has a middle of the pack HR/FB% along with the second highest ground ball % in baseball, suggesting that they shouldn’t be subjected to a substantial spike in home runs any time soon. Those stats are all stats that are largely out of the pitchers’ controls. When taking a look at the advanced stats that they have control over, the staff rates far more favorably. The Pirates are 7th in FIP and 8th in xFIP, stats that only take into account strikeouts, walks (those rankings are high while taking into account the pirates being the 8th most generous staff in baseball), and home runs (aka what the pitcher can control). Granted going forward it assumes that pitchers like Grilli and Melancon and Locke will continue to be as untouchable as they have been, but even with some regression on their part on the whole there’s not much there that would make someone think the wheels would be about to fly off anytime soon.

  36. @ No. 9, JS & Brad

    3 of the best entries in recent memory.

  37. WWNST ?*

    * What Would Nate Silver Think ?

  38. 4 finest reference is clearly because the last 4 are the previous 4 cup winners. This has NEVER happened before. I don’t care about 1945. There were only 6 teams back then anyway and the penguins weren’t one of them. Ha!

    Seriously though, what are the odds that 4 different teams and two from each conference win in consecutive years and then all meet 4 years later? And is it coincidental that Dan Byslma’s magic number this year is 4?? Well I guess its totally coincidental.

  39. Most ridiculous morning post about the Pirates ever. The team comes off of winning 2 out of 3 against argueable the best team in the AL and this is what we get. This constant this is not sustainable crap. Obviously they are not going to win the 102 games they are currently on pace to win but can’t we give credit where credit is do.

    I think a logical person could say they wouldn’t be surprised by 90 wins at this point. Cutch, Walker and Alverez have better stretches in them then what they showed so far this season. If Locke and Gomez regress we have other options. The bullpen has options as well. The hitting will not get worse. It’s currently middle of the pack. Pitching may regress but if you have been paying attention Indy is winning a lot of games with pitching. I don’t see how anyone doesn’t see this team as being competitive all year long.

    If winning 102 is what is not sustainable then yes this is probably not sustainable. If it means anything else then it’s a waste of my time to read because it’s being a buzz kill.

    • Exactly, Nate! Great name, btw. My son is a Nate, and he’s a pretty cool kid.

      The Bucs are on a 101 win pace. What is regression? Falling 10 games below that pace? I’ll take 91 wins. 15 below the current pace? That’s still 86-76.

      By the way, I read somewhere that the Bucs have inked a band for a post-game concert later in the year. I’m trying to remember what they were called … Oh yeah, “Clint and the Regressions.” FWIW, I heard their fans tend to think they are better than they actually are.

  40. I wonder what the saber geeks were saying about Matty Alou in 1966 ? Oh thats right, their parents hadn’t even been born yet.

    • They were saying Harry Walker was a genius for telling Alou to swing down on the ball and smack it into the rock-hard dirt on Forbes field infield. Might even win a batting titlewith that strategy.

      • Raised his average .111 points from 1965 to 1966. Harry Walker was brought in to work with Omar Moreno in the late 70′s & helped him out quite a bit.

    • They were saying that 45-ounce bat was too big for him and the likelihood of him winning the batting title was one xFIP over two BABIP’s.

      And that he wasn’t human, he was a mouse.

      You heard it here first.

    • Thank God actual flesh and bone human scouts and not Apple ipads found and evaluated Alou, Sanguillen, Vlad Guerrero, and the like. .

      In the words of that great sabermetrician, Juan Samuel, “You don’t walk off the Island!”

    • Probably they’d be saying the same thing that they were saying when Tracy tried to get Duffy to do the same thing that Walker convinced Alou to do: good idea.

  41. I think many of use are “reacting” to Dejan’s pointed barbs (justifiably so) but not remembering what all might be behind them.
    There are times when I’m reading the entries, and the arguments are so tired, and so over-used and some just downright mean and nasty, that I resist the urge to just close out the window. But I don’t. Because there are too many posters that I look forward to interacting with.
    Some of the “trolls” I just have learned to ignore.
    But hey, maybe someone else thinks that *I* am a troll. That’s their prerogative.

    But what isn’t right, is for the author/father of this blog to be mean and condescending in his remarks BECAUSE, like it or not, he is held to higher expectations. He shouldn’t lower the bar because he is frustrated.
    Some of us make fun of Smizik for the way he handles trolls and troublemakers. I think Dejan usually does a good job.

    Lately, not so good of a job.

    But maybe we can all step back for a moment or two, and possibly count to three, or five, or ten, before making our own next snide comments.

    Having fun is fine. When it gets old, it’s time to stop.

    OK Mother Theresa is going back to the grindstone for a while.

    Looking forward to the chat :)

  42. Just doing some more objective sabremetricing…

    FanGraphs has calculated that all those unsustainable statistics will in fact spell doom to the 2013 Pirates. Their computers are predicting the team will only manage a 56-53 record the rest of the way, finishing with a measely 89-win season.

    What a shame.

  43. I heard the PBC is on pace to win 101 games this year.

    I humbly think that number is not gonna happen

    That being said, being in a race is potentiall achievable.

    Beat Em Bucs

  44. Do you have another Hooka Hey (or what ever) story that you are going to “break” but waiting to see see if there is another colapse?

    DK: Somebody drop the puck already.

    But yes, to answer your question, I’ve got enough material to fill a book. Just waiting for a significant losing streak to strike for full effect.

    Why do I never hear from idiots like this as it relates to football and hockey?

    They MUST exist, right?

  45. Sorry, this got posted as a reply above, but didn’t want that to happen. If someone could remove that as I’m reposting in a stand alone that’d be great. Thanks.

    Sporting thoughts ona Stats-are-meaningless-but-they’re-not-meaningless Thursday….

    * DK is a columnist. He supports his views usually with some sort of evidence. So if he is cherry picking stats, then we’re all cherry picking stats.

    * By the way, there’s nothing wrong with cherry picking stats. Everyone does it in all walks of life. You’re trying to find evidence to support a particular point of view.

    * I think the unsustainable part of what’s going on with the Buccos right now is that they decide not to play offense for the beginning of games. Yes, it makes for great late drama if you can come back late, but if you keep putting yourself behind the 8-ball, you’re going to get burned.

    * That said, if the Pirates can win tonight and win tomorrow, that’ll be 20 wins in May. They started May with a 3-4 record, and then have won 15 of their last 19 (2 more would make it 17 of 21). Don’t care what the sabermetrics say, that’s damn good baseball.

    * The Pirates executed a suicide squeeze last night. I think they work on fundamentals in the minors.

    * I found it funny that Greg Brown assumed Alvarez was going to score on Snider’s RBI double, so when the play was actually close (and if the throw wasn’t a mile high, Petey would’ve been hosed) he didn’t call it that way, b/c he had already said “Alvarez will score” as soon as the ball got over T.Hunter’s head.

    * AJ Burnett is 3-5 with a 2.72 ERA and 89Ks in 76IP.

    * A lot has been made about our starting pitchers not going deep into games. And how this will lead to added stress on the bullpen, and this will lead to the bullpen falling apart. But…what if our starters do start to go deeper into games (Genie Gomez just threw 7!)? Has anyone considered this possibility?

    * Back to stats…yes, they show what has happened in the past. And yes, they are used to predict the future (as they’re usually more reliable than crystal balls). But, obviously they’re not the end-all-be-all. The stats may say that this ball club will regress. But, do the players believe that? Don’t think so.

    * Love the fact the bullpen has nicknamed themselves “The Shark Tank”. Also love the fact that Jason Grilli had a shark tank installed in the Pirates clubhouse. What a crazy bunch of guys we have….

    * Someone (think it was either NMR or Milo) said the other day that it’s easier when the Pirates stink. Yes, that may be true. But, is it as fun as what we’re seeing now?

    * 1 last thing, DK is not here to be a “sunshine & rainbows” guy. He’s here to call ‘em like he sees ‘em. Yes the team is playing well, but if he feels they’ll regress, then he’ll write as such. If the team keeps playing as it has (or close; THIS level seems unsustainable) I think you’ll see DK start to come around. I think. Maybe I should stop thinking…..

    Looking forward to the chat.


    • I noticed that, too, Nate, about the Alvarez score. Didn’t connect the dots till you mentioned it, though.

      • I like your assortment of thoughts each day, Nater.

        * I found the Brown call on the Snider 2b funny as well. I assume Pedro thought maybe the RF would catch it, which would account for his late jump.

        * Our starters are actually going deeper into games of late. Locke has recently thrown in some 7 inning gems, now Jeanmar. AJ is something like 5 of the last 6 at going 7.

        * AJ just needs to keep pitching well, and let the chips fall where they may with his record. Such is the life of an NL pitcher on a team with middle-of-the-road offense. I think AJ figures as long as he pitches well and the team wins, he’s ok.

        * I love Dejan’s work. I agree with most of it, but certainly not all of it. How could I? That’s not the point to me. I think Jandy made a good point about everyone taking a deep breath before making a snide comment. I love arguing about baseball, but there is no reason not to be cordial to anyone that is trying to do the same thing. This is just sports we are talking here.

        • Thanks Jim.

          Agree with the cordial part. I’ve been guilty of allowing things to get to me in the past, and have responded with snarkyness.

          I also like sarcasm, but, that can be tough to covney sometimes through writing on the internet (without really knowing a person).

          Most days the discussion in here is quite good IMO, and I enjoy being a part of this “community”.

    • Agree about the late inning rally’s. It seems as if they either score in the first inning the last 3 innings. I have to think their innings 2-6 are close to the bottom of the league if not at the bottom.

      Maybe Jay Bell is helping them become more effective hitters as they see a pitcher the second or third time through the order. At a certain point if it happens enough you start to think it not luck but what they are. Remember all the close games over the years that we lost during inning 6 thru 9. Maybe this is what good teams do and we just are not use to seeing it.

      • This is only anecdotal, but I feel like the Bucs have faced a ton of above average starting pitching followed by week bullpens.

        Could be as simple as that.

        • Also anecdotal, but it feels to me like we have not missed many aces lately. Smardzija 2x, Harvey, Verlander/Sanchez, Strassburg. But, we’ve found a way to beat most of them.

    • Well, that Snider fly ball should have been caught… and, unfortunately for Alvarez, he had to wait until the last second to make sure it wasn’t caught. So, there’s another really good example of Alvarez getting the job done on the bases. Perhaps those “we need to pinch run for you in the 8th inning” days will be over soon…??

      • I hear you on Alvarez having to wait, just found it funny that as soon as the ball was over Hunter’s head, Greg Brown says “Alvarez will score”. I think Brownie just got ahead of himself in the comeback excitement.

        I actually kind of wish Petey had been thrown out, just to hear Greg Brown have to back himself out of that call haha!

      • I don’t know, Naje. Maybe Marte catches it if he was playing RF for the Tigers. But, that ball was smoked off the wall in the gap, wasn’t it? I do agree that Pedro thought it might be caught, though, and that is why he got the late jump.

    • I think this is the line that they posted during the post game show last night.

      In his last 20 starts AJ is 4-11 with a 2.91 ERA?

    • “By the way, there’s nothing wrong with cherry picking stats. Everyone does it in all walks of life. You’re trying to find evidence to support a particular point of view.”

      God, this is so terribly wrong.

      If you already have your mind made up, looking for evidence can only further solidify a correct or incorrect assumption. What is the point?

      • If you believe something to be true, you’re going to look for evidence to support it. So when you find said evidence, you’re not then going to look for evidence to contradict yourself.

        That’s what other people are for (as you can see).

        It’s not as if other people present information you can’t change your view.

        • It scares me that people think like this. Just plain wrong.

          Whatever happened to gathering all the information you can BEFORE making up your mind?

          • That’s 1 way to do it I suppose. But I think it comes from looking at something on the surface and formulating an opinion based off of observation.

            Just 1 simple example:

            You go outside. It looks hot (as you can see the waves in the distance), and it feels hot.

            So you check the temperature and it says 90 degrees.

            Suspicions confirmed.

            It’s hot.

            Obviously thats ridiculously simple. And most situations in life would probably call for what you describe above (gathering all info and then formulating an opinion), but I just think more people go the route I describe above.

            We’re not all scientists ya know ;-)

          • It want away when Fox News and MSNBC got spots on the channel grid!

  46. Hey, I got an odd question.

    What would happen if two MLB teams would tie for the second wild card spot? Would they play a one game playoff and then play another one game playoff against the #1 wild card team or would the second WC be determined by a certain statistic?

    • They’re using WAR. No, not the statistic, but actual war. They’re just going to have a Jets and Sharks type rumble in the infield until one team surrenders. Gotta get Dusty Baker off the competition committee.

      Seriously,I think they’re going with a one game playoff.

      • Yeah, the one game playoff is what I remember them talking about too last season.

        But Bud might change it to a home run derby format, it would get better viewing numbers ;-)

      • If they’re going with a one game playoff then what would happen if three or more teams have the same record for the second wild card?

        • I looked it up (yeah, really productive day). Through a series of coin tosses they determine Team A and they wait while Team B & Team C play. The winner of that game then plays Team A.

          • Thanks for taking the time to do that.

            Wow. It seems silly to me that the World Series winner could obtain admission to the playoffs by a series of coin tosses.

      • “They’re just going to have a Jets and Sharks type rumble…”

        But Milo, the Sharks are out of the playoffs and the Jets didn’t even qualify.

  47. about the pirates, I remain positively neutral but hopeful until August. The pirates have proved (time and time again) that winning in the 1st half of the season means absolutely nothing. And as the minimalist baseball fan that I am (due in large part to the last 20 years)… I will continue to believe that the baseball season doesn’t really start until July 4th.

  48. A story on Stetson and his conversion on MLBTradeRumors

    • Thanks for the link, Biz.

      The article notes that Allie was an early round talent as a hitter in his draft. If he would’ve gone on to play college ball at UNC and hit as he has this season, which doesn’t seem like a terrible stretch, I wonder if he would be drafted higher or lower in the 2013 draft?

  49. Another random though. I wonder if the people on the Cincinnati and St. Louis blogs are wondering if their hot streaks are “sustainable”.

    • I wonder if there is finger-wagging on those blogs.

    • Reds and Cards have “sustained” winning records the past couple of years, but I’d bet there is agnst everywhere. Its part of being a fanatic.

      Cards fans gotta be a little bit worried about all the injuries, but they keep on winning.

      If I was a Reds fan, I’d worry about Dusty Baker ;-)

      There are miracle years, I was fortunate enough to live through 1960, so many come from behind wins, the Battling Bucs, I have an LP (record) entitled the Impossible Bucs, or something like that.

      You never know….

    • Well I’d be willing to bet that if you look at the facts about those teams that they aren’t at the bottom of the league in hitting and runs scored, their starters go 6 to 7 innings more often than not, and they aren’t relying on a couple of pitchers who have never performed so well in their entire careers to get there. Those are the things that can’t be sustained.

      • You apparently missed facts like the Cardinals newfound closer, Edward Mujica, going 17 for 17 in saves after closing only only four games in his entire career coming into the season. Or the fact that they’ve gotten nine wins and only three losses from rookie starting pitchers. Or the fact that neither the Pirates or the Reds and Cubs are at the bottom of the league in runs scored.

        Good lord.

        • Year to date:

          Mujica 24 IP
          Chapman 24 IP
          Grilli 24.2 IP

          We’re doomed.

        • I was unaware of the Cards pitching. But they are tops in the NL in Runs scored. The bucs currently sit in 15th in RS in all of the majors and a +28 differential. That is up from where it was when I last looked(they were 19th I believe at the time)

          You beat me down on the use of the closers but what about those middle relief guys like Wilson and Mazzaro who have to pitch a lot right now because the starters go so few innings.

          It is very astonishing to me that Chapman and Mujica have been used that often as well. I’m not as concerned about Grilli’s arm falling off as I am just a general regression to the mean for him. We’ll see.

      • The Pirates are in the middle of the pack in runs scored, not at the bottom of the league. When you have two good points to support your argument, why go to the of making up a third from whole cloth?

  50. If by some chance the Bucs do sustain the unsustainable, their stats at the end of the year will have predicted it in retrospect.

  51. Lively blogtalk about whether the stats say the Bucs are for real or a mirage… can’t say I enjoy it but like a bad car accident I can’t help but rubberneck.

    I was a bit surprised last night when they flashing Jason Grilli’s MLB ranks and he is #1 in the league only in saves… in 3 or 4 other stats he was in the top 5 for sure, but someone in the league, this year, this planet, was performing even better. I know, I know, Grill is way above his mean and a “Grilli market correction” has been predicted on CNBC (get your options plays in, boys and girls)…but it is interesting that some other closers are also performing off the charts.

    I look at the start this way…. the Bucs are 33-21 and it is a damn good thing, both for the confidence it gives the team but also because without this start, they’d be light years behind the torrid Reds and Cardinals (who also won’t keep up this pace, friends.. there have been very few examples where two teams in a division won 95+ games)….so I say, good, maybe we are 4 or 5 games better than we “should be” (though to chagrin of sabremagicians, the game is played for real, in a stadium, with a round ball and a round bat), but we are where we are and we ain’t giving these Ws back.

    Whether we are 33-21 and lucky to be so, or 29-25 or some such, we still are in the same position.. we need to do more, fill the holes, to really compete for the long haul. Everything I’ve heard the Pirates say (mostly from Hurdle) seems right on point that they aren’t living in denial…. using Grilli/Melancon too much, bad RISPs, need to cut down Ks, especially looking with RISPs, starters need to go deeper, pitch to contact, sitting jones/pedro because “we’ve seen it for 2 years and this is year 3 and we want to see something different” against LHPs, and tough RHPs, giving Mercer a shot to start 2-3 times a week, working with McHenry to cut down on SBs, sitting Marte when he starts to develop bad habits, etc….

    I would be worried and would welcome constant railings/warnings of “MAJOR REGRESSION AHEAD, ALERT, ALERT, ALERT” much more if the Pirates were being complacent and saying things like “no need to work on anything, we’re gonna coast to the title”. No such sentiment and loads of evidence to the contrary.

  52. On an only slightly more serious note, Locke has developed a new pitch this year. The two-seam fastball: I read it a while back on the Pirates page here. What we can expect statistically is that the mean will regress to Locke’s new level of competence. That’s what stats do when a player suddenly gets better or worse.

    Now if Jeff King could just take that hole out of Pedro’s bat.

    And I have noticed over the past several decades that most baseball predictions turn out to be wrong. Although DK did nail the Pirates W-L last year.

  53. Another thought on the bullpen usage… remember, friends, that coming into the season the Pirates didn’t really know what they had in Grilli and Melancon. So it isn’t like they knew that (1) they’d be Cy Young one and two (2) the team would put themselves in position to have lots of ‘high leverage’ situations and (3) Grilli and Melancon would perform so well that you would never want to try someone else if you could possibly help it.

    Now that we know these facts, time to work on adding two reliable arms to the bullpen’s back end and they are doing that. Wilson seems ready. Watson is above average. Mazarro is quietly very very good (this year’s Resop? Underappreciated but gets the job done).

    I don’t think Grilli is overused, but he will blow a save here or there folks. Melancon needs to ratchet back the appearances and they’ve already started to do so. Few bullpens are as good as the Pirates and I love that they are in that position… need to add a veteran arm (like Reds added Broxton last season) at the deadline and this is one area we can say we are at par or better than Reds/Cards…and me says that is sustainable.

  54. (Trying to pull us out of the metrics debate)…. didn’t it look sooooo good last night when Pedro effortlessly stroked the ball about 400 feet to left center? Pedro, if he just adjusts a little bit and looks to drive the ball right in the spot he hit it last night, can be a FORCE.

    He has the talent to be as imposing in the box as Pujols or Cabrera (not saying he will hit for average like they do) but he has to take back the outside part of the plate from the pitchers. When teams pitch to Cabrera there are non obvious weak spots. Pitch it outside and he crushes it to RF. If Pedro just lets himself do what he did in the last AB last night, he is gonna to break out in a big way. Cutch did it (but when he slumps he goes back to being pullhappy)… let’s hope Pedro finds his way.

  55. Raise the Jolly Shuttlecock!

  56. OK, last point… very noticeable change in Clint Hurdle’s approach this season..he has gone from “defending the players” and building their confidence to more holding them accountable… when he came here, the team was in disarray and had a knack for whenever things broke slightly for the other team, the Bucs just folded and the floodgates opened. IN that situation, he needed to do all he could to instill confidence , build on the little things, make progress, etc. Now that they’ve had some success, albeit confined to the months before August, and have more veteran leadership, he can push the team harder and be more aggressive in his moves and adjustments. To me he is employing the right style at the right time and I think that is very underrated….. at the time when they hired him, I felt really good about the choice and that has proven to be the case.

    • +++1. Could not agree more. It’s been very noticeable, from ST on.

    • At the time, I was lukewarm to the selection. Then, I liked it less and less as time went on last year. Now, I must admit, I am warming to Clint. I still think he talks in circles with the baseball mumbo jumbo sometimes, but he’s doing a really good job managing this team now IMO.

      • listen to his postgame comments this year vs. year’s past… he is very specific now, not as much ‘cliches or mumbo-jumbo as you call it’…he doesnt throw his team under the bus but he isn’t pollyanna….. it is also obvious he is very hands-on with the hitting, he mentioned working with Walker on a ‘few things’…. I do want someone to ask him more specifics about Pedro…most of the journalists covering the team ask the surface questions and then go on… I really want more of an indepth of either Hurdle or Bell or even Pedro, why he doesn’t attack the outside pitch more, go the other way…. Clint has mentioned it a million times, so the obvious question…”why doesn’t Pedro do that more in the game? Take the opposite field?”

        • Well, I did think the mumbo jumbo, or cliches, as you say were about 80% the first year, 50% last year, and down to 10% this year. So, I see progress there. And I always thought he was very good with the interpersonal communications stuff with the players. I’m very satisfied with the job he is doing this year. I think he has been very good of late with the bullpen. A smart, but subtle move he made with tonight in mind was to hold Melancon out last night, knowing Grilli probably couldn’t go 3 straight nights. This way, he has his #2 closer ready for tonight. I thought that was a smart move. I like that he is showing confidence in Jordy as Jordy earns it. I still say he has a blind spot for JHay, but so do a lot of managers with that 25th guy.

  57. Woah:
    Comment From Playoffs by 2012
    DK, I understand that a very vocal small minority of so-called Pirates fans have made covering and writing about this team an absolute chore for you. But please know there are a lot of fans out here, much like myself, who greatly enjoy your coverage of the Pirates and have for quite some time now. Please don’t let the annoying minority make you jaded towards the whole lot. Thanks.

    • Takin Dejan a long time to answer.

      • Dejan Kovacevic:
        I’m pretty sure that I’ve done either 10 or 11 columns on the Pirates in this calendar year, including being the only local columnist to travel to Bradenton. That’s a pretty good ratio for this time of year, even if it’s been a while since the last one, April 21 in praise of Starling Marte’s great start.

        I’m VERY sure that, from the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs until the very end, my sole focus is Penguins. That’s a decision made by editors, and it’s a decision of which I’m fully and enthusiastically supportive. This team rules this town right now. It’s a no-brainer.

        So, there’s no ‘chore’ here at all. I don’t talk much Pirates at all on social media for two reasons: 1. I’m not around them much right now. When I have been, I’ve done all the usual tweeting of pics and stuff. 2. There actually are people who think that casual conversation on Twitter or whatever is somehow the same as real published work and, in my encounters, most of those are the more retentive baseball fans, who might just be the biggest single turnoff in all of sports.

        That’s not everyone but, as you say, it’s a few.

        For me, social media is fun. If I’m not having fun with a topic, I’m not bringing it up. Interacting with Penguins, Steelers, Pitt and increasingly Penn State fans (not the wackos) has been fun for me.

      • Who needs the Kardashians when you have Dejan vs small-minority-of-25-30-pirate-bloggers?

    • I wonder what a so-called Pirate fan is in this regard.

  58. First-time reader here, long-time poster……………. ;)

    2 things to get us away from the sustainability topic here:

    1) Which do you guys/girlz/yinz see as more important in the upcoming Pens-Broonz series: the Crosby-Chara matchup, or the Pens PP vs Rask.

    2) Really disgusted with the sniping, fighting, arguing, and pettiness shown on the blog the last 3-4 days. I mean, there is plenty of blame to go around…………. but come on. A main reason I migrated to this blog was because it offered a more “peaceful” experience than other blogs. But not lately. If I didnt know any better, I swear I was directly dropped into the middle of a food fight, with all the arguing and “poking the bear” stuff that is going on here. Any suggestions on how to get the civility back? Come on, we are all better than this.

    I will hang up now, and listen to the callers…………… ;)

  59. If I may cherry pick a stat. The Bucs are 32-15 over their last 47 games. Think where we’d be if we had gotten off to a fast start.

  60. For what its worth, Keith Law put out his mock draft 2.0, still predicting Reese McGuire at No. 9 and Peterson at No. 14.

    From what I’ve read and been told here, I’d be happy with those two picks, two sticks, with one (Peterson) a college kid who could be closer to helping at PNC.

  61. New slogan?

    Instead of Pride. Passion. Pirates. can it be:

    Pittsburgh Pirates. Unsustainable.

  62. Last thing from me today (I think. I guess I should stop thinking…):

    Saw someone tweet this article from Fangraphs (saber-haters, DUCK!):

    At least they’ve gone from a laughing stock to being taken seriously. Is there some sort of prize they get for that (players & management)?

    • NO! you musn’t reward them. As soon as they think they are doing well, then they get kablooweeed and lose all the rest of their games.

    • Yes, a Pineapple pizza. ;)

    • Wow, now THAT is a balanced, thorough, unemotional STAT-tastic geekathon article. I hold that as the definitive ‘regression’ article. Don’t get me wrong, I think all of this analytics stuff is hard to really get into, I’d rather watch the games, root for a win, and be sober (not actually but in thought) about the things the Bucs need to do to keep winning and who they need to try to acquire at the deadline.

      I hate to say it but if we are gonna get into the metrics stuff, then this is the way it should be presented….fair and balanced.

      • one last thought, then i’m done…. isn’t NH a sabre-dude? I think he is… I’d love questions posed to Neal about the Pirates playing above their metrics head…and what he plans to do about it… I don’t think he would deny those facts, but be interesting discussion…otherwise, I’m pretty much done on the whole metrics crap. The article above puts the Pirates in the boat with the Braves/Rays/Rockies/Dbacks, playoff contenders, need some pieces, a step below the elite. seems fair to me…and I could’ve told you that without looking at ANY stats, just by watching the games.

        DK: Neyer wrote about Pirates last week. Just basically threw his hands in the air. Funny stuff. Maybe someone can dig up link.

  63. Full of random thoughts today. Here’s another one. Who decides on the theme song for the Stanley Cup playoffs? I was originally thinking the network (ROOT) made that decision.. or is it some NHL marketing group that makes these decisions and passes them down? Only saying because that “light ‘em up” song is super annoying. If they coulda only stuck to “radioactive”… I could listen to that song for 1000+ times and not get annoyed.

    • I totally agree. “Radioactive” is a much better song.

      Does anyone have any new suggestions? I don’t listen to a lot of current music, which seems to float the boat of the NHL, and possibly ROOT sports, so I’m not much help. Sounds like a job for someone’s teenage child!

      It would be neat if the people in charge of music for the “HBO 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic” were consulted on this. They did a bang-up job on all of the episodes.

  64. OK…thanks, all you yinzers, for the laughs and helping make the start of the afternoon a better experience in here. I gotta get some work done…contracts to read, materials to figure out to order…and Naterosboro, just tell your significant other that Mother Theresa didn’t mean to do it ;)

  65. Great. Now that everything has been said, 400+ blog posts, and the blogs devolved into talking about pizza, I’d like to make my prediction for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Penguins in 5. Penguins win game 1, 5-2. Penguins win game 2, 3-1. Penguins lose game 3, 5-4. Penguins win game 4, 2-1. Penguins win game 5, 6-1. Penguins in 5!
    Kings win in 6.
    Finals: Penguins v. Kings
    Penguins in 6. Too far away to predict game scores. Just believe Quick is so good he’ll steal the series against the Hawks and the “adjustment”/Quick factor will let them steal a couple games but ultimately penguins will win 4-2.

    DK: What, no goal-scorers and assists?

    Come on, man, slacking!

    • ya thats too tough. It could be anyone on the penguins to get those goals. Not good enough to predict points. I thought I did pretty well last series to predict the Ottawa games though so figured I’d lay it out from here for the game predictions.

      how bout a prediction we see Fleury in game 4?

  66. I just saw that Jason Grilli was out signing autographs this morning. My God they’re gonna kill him !

  67. Fangraphs: It’s Time to take the Pirates Seriously.

    Wait a minute, I thought… nevermind.

    DK: Amazing. Close to 2,000 words and not a single player is named. It’s all based on the innings in which runs are scored. That’s it.

    • Wow, now THAT is a balanced, thorough, unemotional STAT-tastic geekathon article. I hold that as the definitive ‘regression’ article. Don’t get me wrong, I think all of this analytics stuff is hard to really get into, I’d rather watch the games, root for a win, and be sober (not actually but in thought) about the things the Bucs need to do to keep winning and who they need to try to acquire at the deadline.

      I hate to say it but if we are gonna get into the metrics stuff, then this is the way it should be presented….fair and balanced.

      One last point by me on the metrics and then I’m done… because I wanna watch baseball not do math (lol)…. I think NH is a big metrics guy… would love to hear him posed questions on the Bucs playing above their metrics heads, if he worries about regressing to the mean, what he plans to do about it as the numbers indicate the Bucs need to act to stay in the playoff contention….. would be an interesting conversation and I would think he couldn’t deny statistics because he seems to always spout them in defense of his moves, etc.

    • DK,

      It lost me about eight words in. You know I don’t understand any of that stuff. I posted it for everyone else. You know, so they can pick & chose the stuff they like.

      • I think it is based on run differential, which is also what espn and other sites use to predict final records over a full season. It then tries to go deeper into run differential by isolating timing, etc. Again, there are lies, damn lies and statistics (someone great said that can’t recall who).

    • DK,

      Try reading the article before commenting.

      “If we really want to strip out timing and just focus on the actual events that a team has been involved with, we’re better off going all the way down to the value of the individual plays, rather than stopping at RS/RA and deciding that the runs scored and allowed are a good measure of luck-free performance.”

      “That’s why, on our standings page, we don’t use season-to-date numbers to forecast a team’s projected record over the rest of the year, but we instead lean on the rest-of-season projections from ZIPS and Steamer and playing time forecasts from updated depth charts. These numbers take 2013 performance into account, but also adjust for a player’s historical norms and where he is on the aging curve, which allows for a better future forecast than just looking at two months worth of data.”

  68. <—– jonesing for some good playoff hockey!

    • seconded… really wish they had let penguins v. bruins start tonight. rather than bunch their gm6 & gm7 on back to back days. meh… I guess whining about the playoff schedule was yesterday’s DK topic so I won’t belabour the point.

      DK: I wish it was today or tomorrow, too. This really is ridiculous.

      • At this rate, I sure hope the Sunday games in the Finals are at night so as to avoid conflicts with Steelers regular season games.

    • Well, you know, he was projected by that regime as a “solid No. 3 starter”.

      Actually, that pick was a good one for us, helped get Littlefield fired….

    • I actually remember where I was when I heard the interview with Littlefield on the day of the draft and he described Bullington as a number 3 starter. I thought I was going to drive into the creek next to the road. Kinda knew then that we had many more long years of ineptitude in front of us. (Involuntary shudder on the recall).

  69. Just getting caught up on all the DK columns. Gotta say that letter to Ottowa was as entertaining as watching the DVR-ed replay of JHey getting picked off at 2nd (A&W diet cream soda shot right out of both nostrils on that one, and then I brayed to all (no one) who would hear me… “The Schmucks are back! The schmucks are back! JHey just pulled a shuttlecock!”)

    My cat’s responded with studious indifference, resulting in one of them getting its tail taped to its forehead (now THAT’s a good time!)

    Anyhoo, DK, a fun and interesting switch from standard, run-o-da-mill 3rdP columnizing. Nice work!

    DK: Thanks, Buggee.

  70. Game thread is up

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